1. Stop the Blame Game and Take Responsibility.
Often, couples present in therapy blaming one another for problems in the relationship. There is a belief that, if only my partner can change his/her behavior everything will be better. Yet, that’s typically not the case: in most relationships both partners contribute to distress and dissatisfaction through their behavior. Therefore, the first step in couples therapy is to stop the blame game and view problems as part of the relational system.
2. Become Aware of Relationship Patterns
Have you ever had an argument about your partner’s handling of a money issue? Only to realize it wasn’t about the spending at all. Couples therapy can help you pull back from everyday problems (what therapists call content) to see the larger recurring patterns in the relationship (what therapists call process). The process of how you communicate with your partner is influenced by your personality, your family of origin, and your previous life experiences. These automatic, learned responses influence every aspect of your relationship – and can lead to a satisfying intimate partnership or a distressing one.
3. Begin to See your Partner in a New Light
In many cases, after working through the first two steps in therapy, most couples naturally begin to see one another in a new light. There is a softening and an increase in compassion for the other’s experience. Often, couples realize that their partner is not intentionally hurtful, but rather afraid of intimacy or rejection. This experience can open the door to an improved relationship – one that involves more open and honest communication.
4. Learn New Relationship Skills
As you become more aware of patterns and each partner’s role in the relationship, you’ll have a better idea of what needs to change. In couples therapy, you and your partner can learn concrete skills and tools to help you have a happier relationship. You’ll learn how to communicate more effectively, how to be more attuned to your partner’s experiences, as well as how to recognize your own triggers and know when you need to take a break. Overall, it is likely that you’ll gain increased emotional intelligence and maturity.
5. Maintain your Gains!
There’s no doubt couples therapy can be hard work. You’re asked to be more open, more vulnerable, and take emotional risks with your partner. Yet throughout the process, you’ll have the opportunity to build a happier and more fulfilling relationship. Once you’re satisfied with your progress, we’ll explore ways to maintain your gains and continue your strong and healthy partnership.
Katrina Taylor, LMFT-Associate. 512-270-9002
Disclaimer: The content provided here is intended for informational purposes only. Reading articles and content on this website does not constitute a therapeutic relationship.